Home > Jett (Arizona Vengeance #10)(2)

Jett (Arizona Vengeance #10)(2)
Author: Sawyer Bennett

Riggs, one of our defensemen, couldn’t come because his sister had a school project he had to help with. At least, that was his excuse. I’m not quite sure what’s true. We still know next to nothing about the man and why he’s guardian to his seventeen-year-old sister.

My eyes go to the large plant in his window, with vines dripping over the edge and trailing on the floor. “I see your hero plant is doing well.”

Baden snorts. He complains about that damn thing and having to take care of it every time I come, but he must enjoy doing it because the thing is thriving. It was given to him by the woman whose life he saved. I’d think it would be a bad reminder of his injuries, but I guess he chooses to look at the gratitude it represents. Regardless, he doesn’t say much about the incident at all, and the men who attacked the two of them have never been found. I suspect it’s hard to get closure with that hanging over your head.

Baden doesn’t bother transferring out of his wheelchair onto his bed or one of the two deep-cushioned chairs set by the window. He merely turns his wheelchair toward the chair I take and latches the brake, slouching down comfortably.

“Give me the thirty-second update on everyone,” he demands.

There’s no need to talk specifics on stats. Baden has been following our games diligently because he’s still a member of this team.

No… Baden is talking personal.

Gossip.

“Hmmm,” I say, lifting my eyes briefly to the ceiling to ponder. “Jim and Ella have fully reconciled.”

“Excellent,” Baden says with a nod, motioning with his hand to continue.

I fill him in on the others. Blue and Erik are due to have their baby next month and Erik is having mini panic attacks when we travel for away games. We laugh over the fact that Kane is actively participating in planning his wedding to Mollie and seems to enjoy looking at flowers and venues, something the guys all give him shit for.

“Looks like Dominik and Willow are going to adopt Dillon,” I tell Baden.

“Holy shit,” he exclaims. “That’s awesome. Is the little dude still killing it in peewee hockey?”

I nod with a laugh. “Yeah… I bet he’s headed straight for a position on our team.”

Dominik Carlson, the owner of our team, and his new wife, Willow, have been fostering the young boy for several months. I always thought their end goal was adoption, but I don’t think they really wanted to say that out loud, lest they jinx themselves.

“How in the hell have you really been doing?” I ask him, although I’m pretty up to date. While I visit as much as I can, I talk to Baden every day via text—which is most often—and also by phone.

Baden grins slyly and shakes his head. “Uh-uh. You know all there is to know about my narrow existence. I’m working out and rehabbing. That’s it. I’d rather know how you’re doing and if you’ve officially struck out with the hot new social media chick in the front office.”

I sigh loudly, because he’s talking about Emory Holland, who has become the bane of my existence. She’s utterly unmoved by my charms.

Our first meeting didn’t go so well. She was hired as the Vice President of Digital Marketing and Analytics by the Vengeance. I have no fucking clue what that even means, but one program she’s instituted is a fan outreach program via Instagram. She met individually with all the players to assess their social media footprint and give advice on how to tailor it to draw in more fans.

During our first meeting, she was all business.

I was trying to get a date.

I crashed and burned hard, her letdown line being “I don’t date co-workers,” but I could tell she just wasn’t interested in me. Admittedly, that stung.

“I’ve got a new plan,” I reply to Baden with a grin. “I’m actually meeting with her this afternoon.”

“And what’s the plan?” he asks.

“I’m going to show her I’ve got the best social media game around. She’s going to be so impressed by the fact I’ve done exactly what she’s asked for, and I’ve done it with exuberance, that she’ll have no choice but to agree to a date out of gratitude.”

Baden snorts. “Be prepared to get shot down again if that’s your game.”

“She’s a tough nut to crack,” I admit thoughtfully.

“I found her delightful,” Baden says, and I blink at him in surprise. He laughs at my reaction. “Yeah… she came here to meet with me. Asked if I’d consider starting an IG account to track my rehab and recovery.”

I frown. That seems a bit intrusive.

Baden reads my expression and assures me, “It’s all good. She was very non-pressure and only wanted me to think about it. But I think it could help inspire others who are facing the same types of injuries. I want them to see there is hope.”

It hits me in the feels—yes, us hockey players have them—that Baden wants to help others out of this tragedy. He’s just that type of dude.

Since he’s being open, I take the risk and ask, “What exactly are your chances of playing again?”

Baden manages a smile, but it’s one of almost pity for being scared to ask the question. “There’s a very slim chance. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.”

“Which you can do,” I assert.

“Which I can absolutely do,” he affirms, but then his expression sobers. “But I’m not setting it as my goal right now. I just want to be able to walk functionally for now, then I can set my next goal.”

That’s smart. Setting yourself up for unrealistic milestones can only lead to massive failure and crush further dreams.

We talk more about the season and how it’s progressing. As the defending Cup champions, the pressure to outperform ourselves is immense. As it stands, we’re second in our division, which is nothing to sneeze at, but we need to make a push to take over that first spot.

We gossip about the other players. So many this past year settling down.

Not on my horizon, of course, but I’m happy for my teammates who are satisfied with the monogamous lifestyle.

I glance down at my watch. “Dude… got to get going.”

I stand from my chair as Baden unlatches his brakes to wheel alongside me to the door. “I thought you weren’t meeting with Miss Holland until this afternoon?”

“I’m not,” I say with a laugh, sticking my hand out for him to grasp and I bend to pull him in semi-close and clap him on his shoulder—classic bro hug. As we release, I tell him, “But I’ve got a Switch date with some kid in the children’s unit.”

While I’ve never wanted kids myself, because that’s a fuck lot of responsibility that just doesn’t seem appealing to me, I never, ever miss a chance to hang out with someone else’s kid.

Because I know, I can always hand them back over and walk away without looking back.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 


Emory


I type the last few lines of a post I’m doing on the team’s Instagram account, accompanied by a photo of our owner, Dominik Carlson, with his wife, Willow, and their foster son, Dillon. It’s a candid shot I took in the owner’s box during the game last night.

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